If the number of gay-friendly faith organizations and number of openly gay elected officials in a community are any indication – and apparently they are – then Minneapolis is more than the City of Lakes. We’re the gayest city in the country.
The Advocate is the oldest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) interest magazine and, according to their website, the “world’s leading source for LGBT news.” Although the Advocate’s surveying methods wouldn’t pass muster in an introductory statistics class, their pronouncement of Minneapolis as the gayest city in the nation shouldn’t go ignored.
Former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, might be surprised that her city, San Francisco, didn’t even make the top ten list of gayest American cities. While Rep. Pelosi might appreciate a little break from the limelight, Minneapolis leaders, from Mayor R.T. Rybak (an ally to the gay community) to members of the Minneapolis City Council (some of whom are gay and contributed to our city receiving the top ranking) should capitalize on the announcement and actively promote Minneapolis as the gayest city in the United States.
Let’s start by proclaiming this recognition on every population sign that greet drivers coming into our city. Below the sign welcoming people to our City of Lakes and informing them of the size of our population, could be another sign explaining we are the “Gayest City in America.” We’ve done things like this before. Many communities announce who is picking up trash along the side of the road, or their significance as the birthplace of historical figures. Why not send another message to residents and visitors alike – one that acknowledges the diversity, tolerance and inclusivity of Minnesota’s largest city.
Our Chamber of Commerce doesn’t need to reprint its brochures to share this news with the rest of the world, but how about a “Gayest City in America” sticker placed on every brochure the Chamber distributes in 2011? The Chamber’s website could use a little pizazz. How about displaying the announcement there? No doubt Quorum, the highly respected “trusted voice” for the LGBT and allied business community in the Twin Cities, will take full advantage of the Advocate’s announcement to promote economic development. The Minneapolis Chamber should, too.
Bestowing the title of Gayest City in America could not have come at a better time. In early February, more than 2,500 participants are expected in Minneapolis to attend the 23rd National Conference on LGBT Equality: Creating Change. This conference is just one example of how a welcoming community can also serve as an economic engine. What other organizations might select the gayest American city as the site of their conferences? How can a title like this be used to increase tourism? Minneapolis already has one of the largest Pride celebrations every June, why not add a winter pride party? We could create the largest outdoor ice bar every January and help fill up restaurants, hotels and theaters at a time when local businesses could use a boost.
Sure, the title of Minneapolis as the Gayest City in America is not much different than the selection of Princess Kay of the Milky Way at the state fair every year. The excitement of the announcement will melt away as quickly as the butter sculpture of the princess. But, for the next year, why not have some fun with Minneapolis as the Gayest City in America. It sure beats the title of “Murderapolis” that we had a few years ago.
Too often in Minnesota, home-grown talent is ignored or pooh-poohed. Our appreciation for a Prince or a Garrison Keillor increases once their abilities have been acknowledged by other, presumably more sophisticated, locales. It’s as though choosing to live in Minnesota automatically delegates our artists, intellectuals and even politicians to the B-list. Explorer, researcher and New York Times best-selling author, Dan Buettner, is another example of a Minnesotan whose work should be lauded locally.